5 Best Places to Paddleboard in Maui

Picture of 3 paddleboarders shot from above as they enjoy the ocean

Stand-up paddleboarding has become one of the most popular activities among visitors to the Hawaiian islands. With some of the best beaches globally and crystal-clear water, Maui features the perfect playground for adventurous travelers. Whether heading out for a leisurely paddle or riding waves, Maui hosts a mecca of places to paddleboard for both first-timers and experienced stand-up paddleboarders alike.

Kahekili Beach Park

In West Maui, just north of the world-famous Kaanapali Beach Park, lies the less crowded Kahekili Beach Park. Also referred to as “airport beach,” this beach is well known for its calm waters and snorkeler-friendly reefs. While paddleboarding at Kahekili Beach Park, it is common for paddleboarders to bring their snorkel masks to peek into the warm waters below.

Marine life at Maui’s Kahekili Beach Park is plentiful. There are dozens of tropical fish and sea turtles circling the reef below. Parking at Kahekili Beach is free and abundant, making it very easy to load and unload stand-up paddleboards. This beach is more secluded than others. This makes it an ideal getaway for a small group looking to stand up paddle away from the tours and crowds.

Maluaka Beach – “Turtle Town”

A sea turtle swimming under the water with the sun shining down through

Located in Central Maui, Maluaka Beach offers sweeping views of Makena Bay. It offers a range of activities for travelers of all kinds. It is one of the most popular beaches in Maui. Maluaka beach offers calm waters, soft sand, and a multitude of underwater life. In the winter months, humpback whales may even be spotted offshore. Maui has become a breeding ground for humpback whales from October to March. Some even gather on the streets with binoculars searching for a breach or spout.

Stand-up paddleboarding at Maluaka Beach offers views of the West Maui mountains and the crystal-clear waters of South Maui. For those looking to search Maui for the best stand-up paddleboarding beaches, Maluaka Beach should be a stop worth making. This beach park also offers restrooms and outdoor showers. There are also mobile schools parked at the beach offering daily SUP lessons.

Maluaka Beach is also known by many as “turtle town” because of the frequent spotting of Hawaiian green sea turtles. Maui stand-up paddleboarders often frequent Maluaka in hopes of spotting one. Hawaiian green sea turtles are curious creatures and will pop their heads up to check out those paddling above them. However, no matter how enticing it may be to touch them, make sure to keep clear and respect the habitat of much marine life if encountered.

The Cove – Kihei

A man riding a large wave on a paddleboard

Kihei is the go-to place for Maui stand-up paddleboarding. Driving down the coast of Kihei, travelers will pass many unloading their paddleboard in preparation for a day on the water. Amenities in Kihei are plentiful. There are restrooms at nearly every beach park, many restaurants, and multiple supermarkets for a quick snack or poke bowl.

The Cove is a beach park located in the middle of Kihei’s coast. It is a well-known place for surfing and SUP lessons in Maui. There are many stand-up paddleboarding rental shops and lessons available within walking distance to The Cove. Local shops offer lessons to teach first-timers. They teach not just how to stand on their boards but also how to surf on a SUP. Paddling into a wave on a stand-up paddleboard can be difficult. Lessons can get those already comfortable on a stand-up paddleboard catching waves and riding down the line.

Kihei does get some swell that ranges from ankle-high to even head-high on some days. Most of the time, though, the waves are just about knee-high. They are big enough to offer some push for those looking to paddle into their first wave without being too overwhelming.

Kapalua Bay

On the northern end of Maui is the sheltered area of Kapalua. It is usually unaffected by wind or large swell. The calm waters of Kapalua also offer a clear view of the reef below for stand-up paddleboarders and snorkelers alike. This area of Northern Maui is highly affected by rain runoff. This makes it less ideal for stand-up paddleboarding if heavy rains were experienced within two to three days before heading to Kapalua.

There is ample parking and beautiful amenities at this Maui beach park. This makes it a great place to go paddleboarding with a small group or if traveling with guests who are less interested in stand-up paddleboarding and more interested in sunbathing or a good book on the beach. Kapalua has many amazing views. It will leave all group members, no matter their activity level, with memories to last a lifetime.

Molokini Crater

A group of snorkelers in the water in front of a catamaran

Molokini Crater is a small uninhabited island off the coast of South Maui. It is only accessible by boat. It is important for guests to book a tour of Molokini Crater ahead of their arrival to Maui. Tours of Molokini Crater also typically consist of snorkeling and kayaking on top of paddleboarding. Visitors are given quick SUP lessons. Instructors teach guests where is safe to swim and paddle. They will also steer guests in the right direction away from areas that can be shallow or dangerous.

Molokini Crater is one of the best spots for paddle boarding while visiting Maui. Molokini is not frequently visited. As such, it offers untouched waters with an uninterrupted coral reef below. Paddleboarding here allows for the best vantage point to spot marine life of all kinds in its most pristine form.

Visiting Maui but New to Paddleboarding?

An man standing in front of the water with a paddle and a resort in the background

Commonly, visitors of Maui decide to pick up paddleboarding while in town, as there is no better place to learn than on vacation in a tropical paradise. Stand-up paddleboarding can be tweaked to fit anyone’s level of fitness. Since it is a low-impact workout, stand-up paddleboarding can be done at a leisurely pace making it friendly for those looking to enter the SUP world.

Maui offers a multitude of paddleboard rentals. It is a good idea to take a lesson from one of the stand-up paddleboard schools on the island. Renting a paddleboard and hopping in the ocean can seem like a simple task. It is important to have well-practiced instructors teach the proper paddling techniques, which can make the sport much more fun in the long run. Taking lessons in Maui with an instructor paying personal attention to form and proper technique is well worth the time and money spent.

A stand-up paddleboarding private tour of Maui may also be a fun way to ease into the sport. Skilled SUP instructors offer visitors a private lesson while also giving an overview of proper instruction and Hawaiian culture. Hawaiian paddle sports have become popular worldwide. Maui is an ideal place for newcomers to experience stand-up paddleboarding in its place of origin.

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